How do we Positively Change Public Perception of the Importance of Infra Eco Solutions

A Longterm Biodiversity Communications strategy using Infra Eco projects in the Dutch Railways Defragmentation Programme.

When building ecological structures, both big wildlife bridges or small eco-culverts, public opinion is that it is an expensive solution for a minor problem, mostly imposed by regulation. The general feeling is: spent our money on more important projects. The belief that these projects are very important links in for example increasing biodiversity is not shared. How can we turn this mindset so that people themselves embrace the idea?

At ProRail, the Dutch organization responsible for the management of the Dutch railway system, we initiated a long term communication strategy within the ProRail part of the national defragmentation programme. Communication in a project organization is mostly based on reached milestones and it stops afterwards. Together with organizing projects in a longterm programme, the strategy is to force ourselves in putting out messages in a continuous stream.

Every month a small or more or less related news item is put on the ProRail website. Together comes the use of social media. It is important because it directs people to the website. The content of the news item is limited but it can contain a link to more detailed information and it always highlights the same underlying message:

"Nature is important and by connecting natural areas we create a larger habitat and thereby strengthen nature."

Another important thing in the strategy is how to create that stream of news items. You will need content. We have experience with te following selection:

  • Project milestones.
  • Picking up news items. A lot is happening on -for example- social media.
  • Join existing happenings or items like "Animal Day", national Sustainability Day. But also for example Halloween.
  • Highlighting specific work within projects. Smaller milestones.
  • Share photos. Promoting the use of social media by the contractor and project members: make pictures or movies and post them. It's easy to link to.
  • Participating in educational projects like Green Future Hero's.
  • Place a bee hostel or other small fauna shelters.
  • Initiating educational projects.
  • Make attractive visuals.

We believe we can raise people's consciousness in order to convince thema that it's important to help increase biodiversity. These contributions to more living space for flora and fauna can also be seen as a part of corporate social responsibility or sustainability programs. It can change the public perception of an organization.

Communication, Negative Public Opinion, Education, Influence, Strategy, Infra Eco Solutions, Dutch Railways